At first glance, it seems certain that either a cast of a glacier, a mountain, or a cumulus cloud has invaded Houston’s Rice University Art Gallery. Yet upon closer inspection (which is encouraged), the installation actually consists of mere sheets of plastic suspended from the ceiling with nylon thread and wisps of black hot glue.
The sculpture is the handiwork of Japanese artist Yasuaki Onishi, who spent the last year making smaller renditions of these ghost-like peaks in a series titled Reverse of Volume. The one on view at Rice—the only university art museum in the country dedicated to site-specific installation art—is the latest, and arguably the most arrestingly elegant. The emerging talent and his assistant together draped sheets of plastic over stacks of cardboard boxes and dripped glue from the ceiling onto the translucent surface to hold it in place. After the fixative dried, they removed the boxes, leaving a perfect cast of the plastic floating in space. Onishi calls this process “casting the invisible.”
Viewers can walk under the colossal chamber, which is dotted with delicate drizzles of black. From beneath the cave-like mass, the gallery’s fluorescent lighting steeps the plastic in varying shades and shadows of white, emphasizing its pure qualities of shape, line change, and hue.